Chess- #19 in (Un)Common Writing Strategies- Why Every Writer Should Play Chess

by- Tom Kubrak

“Make your move.” His opponent said to him

“Hold on… just give me some time.” he responded nervously. 

He continued to ponder his decision for another minute or so. Thus prompting his opponent to again say…

“You’re taking too long.”

Come on dude, I’m sorry, just give me another minute


“We don’t have all day. Some others want to play too.” One of the spectators said from the small crowd. 

“Guys come on..” He said to his opponent and the crowd. Some more time went by but this time he was locked in intently to the board blocking out anybody and everybody. He was going to make the right decision. Finally he made his move.

“There! Ahah.” He began looking around and couldn’t see anybody. Not even his opponent was there. “Wait… where’d everybody go?”


The above story resembles an indecisive chess player(a slow chess player is okay, but a chess player that takes all day; nobody really likes). Especially when other people are trying to play a game.

Why this story to explain to you why Chess matters for Writers? 

Because I believe this part of the game of chess describes why we, as writers, need to play this game more. Because are decision making is slow. We need to be quicker. How do we get quicker in coming up with solutions to hard parts of our stories? 


Whether that’s online or in person with someone,I think it’s critical to constantly be tailoring our brains as writers to making quickier decisions; while also being patient. We need to find the medium but when we take too long our readers are going to get bored and walk away. You’re going to lose their attention and they’re going to find another writer they like.

What’s Your Move?

Today… make a move in your writing…something…take a step forward…not a stagnant step going nowhere.

Analyze The Other Players Move

Watch other writers and see what they’re doing. See what their doing that you like, don’t like, things they’re doing that’s working,

and things that you want to emulate

Find a Chess Mentor

A few years ago, I was living in a small town in New Jersey. There was a place where everyone went to play chess. Having never really played that much, but was interested in learning I went to this spot pretty consistently. I went there as much as I could. There were all types of personalities and players there. Every time I went there though there  was this one player that everybody wanted to play; to beat him. Everybody wanted a chance at taking down “The King.” I played this man many times and watched him play many times. After losing many times, I finally was able to beat him. It was one of the greatest moments.

How I Won That Game

Because I asked him, after one of our runs, 

“After the games you play will you tell me why you won and what the other player did wrong?”

‘He replied simply- “Yes of course.”

I found my chess master- and just a few years minutes ago I found a writing mentor. I invested into a writing course too.

Analyze Your Moves

Take a time each week or even at the end of each day to analyze your moves.

Study The game

Read more and listen to interviews with writers. When it comes to chess if you want to beat “The King” you have to learn the moves first.

Buy a Chess Board

In this case this is you buying your first laptop or typewriter.

Upgrade(when you’re ready) To a Better Chess Board

This is just constantly investing and finding new ways to better your writing- yes find what works but never shut off that I could do better side of your brain.

Play The Game

Now that you have the right tools. It’s time to play or in our case write- after all of the studying, learning, and practicing it’s time to get into a few games

Try Different Moves

A game of chess is challenging. Especially, when you’re playing a veteran at the game – you can learn a lot.

But.. this is an eye opening experience because, just like in your writing we need to treat each day like a different player your playing or each chapter like a different person.

With each chapter you have to try different moves. Sometimes it’s going to take a walk, other times it’s going to require you to change your desk around.

Each section of the chapter is a different part of the game-  sometimes the move is clear and easy to make. Other times, the move is hard and not as clear- you need a few minutes to decide.

But it’s fixing that puzzle and learning when to think and learning when to make a quick move that will throw off your opponent.

Have Fun With It

With me.. sometimes, I would accompnay the game with a cigar or a beer. Enjoy it, it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. Bring some friends and have a good time. Chess can be a very intense game but it can also be very fun.

Remember take some time off your writing and play a game of chess.

Do you play a game that helps you out with your writing? Do you agree or disagree that you should play chess as a writer? Let me know your thoughts in the article.

Follow me on instagram for updates, stories and more. And follow my website if you like this story for when I release another. Thanks!

By- Tom Kubrak




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